Following a year marred by privacy controversies, Facebook has never been under more pressure from regulators and lawmakers to take better care of its users’ info. That pressure ratcheted up even further this week with a report that a German antitrust watchdog may soon order Facebook to stop gathering some user data.
According to the report in Reuters, the German Federal Cartel Office, or Bundeskartellamt, has been investigating Facebook since 2015. Now, it has found that the company has “abused its market dominance” to gather people’s data without their knowledge or consent. For its part, Facebook strongly challenged the group’s findings.
“Since 2016, we have been in regular contact with the Bundeskartellamt and have responded to their requests,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNET in a statement. “As we outlined publicly in 2017, we disagree with their views and the conflation of data protection laws and antitrust laws, and will continue to defend our position.”
It remains to be seen how Facebook will deal with this order, or what kind of timetable it will face to comply. But regardless of the outcome, cases like this are important. It could provide the blueprint for how governments all around the world can rein in the most powerful social media platform ever created — including here in the U.S.